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PSALM 1

On the themes of righteousness, the pursuit of spiritual completeness, and the contrast between the transient and the eternal. * Psalms in English followed by a liturgical explanation inspired by the teachings of Malbim.

by Rabbi Boruch Merkur

Fortunate is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers.

But his delight is in the Torah of the Lord, and in His Torah he meditates day and night.

He shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; whatever he does prospers.

Not so the wicked; they are like chaff that the wind blows away.

Therefore, the wicked will not stand in judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.


Fortunate is one who seeks not the counsel of the vacuous, nor stands in the shadow of fleeting desires, nor sits in the company of idleness and scorn. In the heart of such a person, wisdom takes root, and in the spirit, a yearning for the eternal flame emerges. The seeker finds delight in the Torah of the Lord, a joy not born of fleeting gains or earthly laurels, but in the pursuit of truth, the essence of the Divine.


The wisdom of the Lord is like a tree of life, planted by streams of unending grace, bearing fruit in its due season, a testament of lasting faith. Like a steadfast and enduring tree is the righteous soul, rooted not in the transient soil of this world, but reaching upwards towards the celestial light. In the Torah, they find sustenance, a constant guide. Their leaves never wither, their purpose never falters. They are like trees planted by water, drawing from the eternal spring of divine wisdom. Their deeds, ripe with sincerity and love, are offerings to the world, reflections of the soul’s true calling. In every season, their spirit yields the fruits of compassion, and their leaves offer shelter of knowledge and understanding.


For the righteous, the temporal is a guardian of the spiritual, a vessel for the journey towards ultimate fulfillment. Their path is illuminated by the light of the Torah, a beacon guiding through the wilderness of existence. Yet, the way of the wicked is like chaff, drifting aimlessly, severed from the grain of truth. In the assembly of the righteous, they find no footing, for their path leads not to the sanctum of the Divine.


The Lord, in His boundless wisdom, knows the heart of each. To those who walk in righteousness, He is eternally near, their path intertwined with His unchanging truth. But the way of the wicked, devoid of real substance, fades into oblivion, like shadows at dawn. Thus, we aspire to walk in the light of righteousness, to seek the wisdom that endures beyond the ages, to be like the tree, flourishing by divine waters, bearing fruit that sustains, nurtures, and heals.


May our hearts be rooted in the teachings of the Torah, and our lives a testament to the eternal wisdom it imparts. For in its words, we find the path to true fulfillment, a journey towards the everlasting embrace of the Divine.

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